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Iowa Statehouse Reporters Discuss Iowa's 81st General Assembly

posted on April 15, 2005

Yepsen: THE FIRST SESSION OF IOWA'S 81ST GENERAL ASSEMBLY IS WINDING DOWN. WITH TWO WEEKS REMAINING, SOME IMPORTANT ITEMS REMAIN ON THE TABLE. WE DISCUSS IT WITH OUR TEAM OF IOWA STATEHOUSE REPORTERS ON THIS EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS."

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION; THIS IS THE FRIDAY, APRIL 15 EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." HERE IS DAVID YEPSEN.

Yepsen: TODAY TWO WORDS ARE HAUNTING THE HALLS OF THE IOWA STATEHOUSE, AND THOSE TWO WORDS ARE "SPECIAL SESSION." WHETHER OR NOT IOWA'S SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES CAN WRAP THINGS UP BY THE SCHEDULED ADJOURNMENT DATE OF FRIDAY APRIL 29 IS UNKNOWN. NOW, GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK IN THE PAST HAS SHOWN NO HESITANCY TO BRING THE LEGISLATURE BACK FOR MORE WORK WHEN HE FEELS THERE'S MORE TO BE DONE. BUT THEN THERE'S ALWAYS A SPECIAL-SESSION TALK WHEN THE END OF ALL SESSIONS ARE NEAR AND LAWMAKERS ARE DEADLOCKED. WHAT IS KNOWN IS THAT FINALIZATION OF THE NEW IOWA BUDGET FOR FISCAL 2006 IS STILL UP IN THE AIR. SO TODAY WE TAKE A STEP BACK TO REVIEW WHERE WE'VE BEEN AND WHERE WE'RE HEADED. JOINING US ARE KAY HENDERSON, NEWS DIRECTOR WITH "RADIO IOWA," AND MIKE GLOVER, SENIOR LEGISLATIVE AND POLITICAL REPORTER WITH THE "ASSOCIATED PRESS." ALSO WITH US AT THE "IOWA PRESS" TABLE ARE TODD DORMAN, CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF WITH THE "LEE NEWSPAPERS" AND JENEANE BECK, IOWA STATEHOUSE REPORTER WITH "KUNI PUBLIC RADIO." JENEANE, SOME BREAKTHROUGH LAST WEEK ON THE CIGARETTE TAX. WHAT HAPPENED?

Beck: WELL, SENATE REPUBLICANS SAID THEY WOULD ACCEPT A DOUBLING OF THE CIGARETTE TAX. IT'S CURRENTLY AT 36 CENTS A PACK. THEY WOULD LET THAT GO UP TO 72 CENTS. THEY SAY THAT'S AS HIGH AS THEY'LL LET IT GO. THEY SAY ANYTHING OVER THAT, THEY WILL KILL DEBATE ON IT. THEY WON'T LET A BILL EVEN BE DEBATED THAT GOES HIGHER THAN DOUBLING THE CIGARETTE TAX. SO THAT'S NO GUARANTY THAT IT WILL PASS, BUT IT IS BIG MOVEMENT FROM SENATE REPUBLICANS ORIGINALLY CALLING THE GOVERNOR'S CALL FOR A CIGARETTE TAX A BIG LIE, SAYING THE MONEY WASN'T NEEDED TO BALANCE THE BUDGET.

Glover: AND, DAVID, I THINK A BIG PART OF THAT, WHAT JENEANE IS TALKING ABOUT, IS ONE OF THE REASONS I THINK THERE WILL EVENTUALLY BE A SETTLEMENT OF WHAT'S HAPPENING AT THE STATEHOUSE DURING THIS REGULAR LEGISLATIVE SESSION. WHAT'S HAPPENING HERE IS THERE'S A BUDGET DISPUTE. HISTORICALLY BUDGET DISPUTES ARE PRETTY EASY FOR LEGISLATORS TO SOLVE BECAUSE YOU CAN ALWAYS SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE. IT'S UNKNOWN. AND IF YOU LOOK AT WHERE THEY ARE, DEMOCRATS ARE ABOUT $135 MILLION ABOVE REPUBLICANS IN PROPOSED SPENDING. A 36-CENT CIGARETTE TAX INCREASE WOULD BRING IN ABOUT $70 MILLION. THAT LOOKS TO ME LIKE SPLITTING THE DIFFERENCE AND A PRETTY GOOD PLACE TO LAND.

Yepsen: TODD, WHAT'S YOUR GUESS? IS IT GOING TO PASS?

Dorman: WELL, THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IS THAT THERE ARE REPUBLICAN SENATORS WHO WILL VOTE FOR A CIGARETTE TAX INCREASE, BUT THAT REMAINS TO BE SEEN. I THINK IF THERE ARE CROSSOVER VOTES, I THINK MOST DEMOCRATS WILL VOTE FOR IT AND I THINK IT PASSES THE SENATE. THE TROUBLE IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN IT GETS TO THE HOUSE. AGAIN, THERE ARE PROBABLY REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE WHO WILL VOTE FOR A CIGARETTE TAX INCREASE, BUT THE REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP IN THE HOUSE ISN'T CRAZY ABOUT THE IDEA. SO WHAT HAPPENS THEN REMAINS TO BE SEEN.

Yepsen: KAY, WHAT'S YOUR GUESS?

Henderson: I THINK IT WILL PASS THE SENATE BY A NARROW MARGIN. I THINK, AS TODD SAID, THE TROUBLE IS THE HOUSE. HOUSE LEADERS HAVE RHETORICALLY BEEN TALKING DOWN THE CIGARETTE TAX FOR THE PAST SEVERAL MONTHS, AND FOR THEM TO MAKE THAT SORT OF A SWITCH AND ACTUALLY EVEN ALLOW A VOTE ON THE CIGARETTE TAX WOULD BE A MOMENTOUS DECISION ON THEIR PART BECAUSE THEY REALLY HAVE EVEN STARTED CALLING IT THE SALARY TAX, INSINUATING THAT THE ONLY REASON YOU NEED TO RAISE THE CIGARETTE TAX IS TO RAISE MONEY TO PAY STATE WORKER SALARIES FOR UNION WORKERS. OF COURSE, UNION WORKERS HAVE BEEN --

Glover: AND WHAT'S LOST IN THIS DEBATE IS NOT LOST IN THE MINDS OF SOME PEOPLE LIKE CHRIS RANTS, WHICH IS THE NEXT ELECTION. REPUBLICANS HAD A PRETTY BAD ELECTION LAST NOVEMBER. THEY LOST SEATS IN BOTH THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE. A LOT OF REPUBLICANS SAY THAT ONE OF THE STRONGEST POINTS THEY CAN MAKE ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL IS WE WON'T INCREASE A TAX, ANY TAX, AND INCREASING THE CIGARETTE TAX BREAKS THAT.

Yepsen: SO IF YOU ARE GOING TO RAISE TAXES, IT'S BETTER TO DO IT IN A NONELECTION YEAR THAN AN ELECTION YEAR; IS THAT CORRECT?

Glover: ABSOLUTELY.

Henderson: AND THIS IS AN UNUSUAL TAX. IF YOU'RE GOING TO RAISE ANY TAX AND GET AWAY WITH IT IN TERMS OF GETTING AWAY AT THE BALLOT BOX, THIS IS THE ONE TO RAISE. YOU'VE GOT A BUNCH OF PEOPLE WHO DON'T SMOKE WHO HATE SMOKERS. AND IT'S JUST FINE WITH THEM THAT THE CIGARETTE TAX IS RAISED. IF YOU LOOK AT THE POLLS, CIGARETTE TAX -- I MEAN CIGARETTE SMOKERS THEMSELVES HAVE SORT OF RESIGNED TO THE FACT THAT THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO PAY MORE. SO AT THE BALLOT BOX, IT'S PROBABLY A TAX THAT IS NOT GOING TO BITE THAT MUCH.

Dorman: YOU CAN ALSO PORTRAY IT AS SAVING LIVES. I MEAN YOU CAN MAKE THE ARGUMENT THAT IF YOU RAISE THE CIGARETTE TAX, SOME PEOPLE WILL STOP SMOKING, SOME TEENAGERS WON'T START BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE THE MONEY TO PAY FOR THOSE CIGARETTES.

Yepsen: SO THE CONSENSUS AT THE TABLE IS IF YOU'RE A SMOKER IN IOWA, STOCK UP NOW. [ LAUGHTER ]

Glover: EITHER THAT OR MOVE TO THE BORDER AND BUY THEM IN ILLINOIS.

Yepsen: MIKE, TALK ABOUT THE VALUES FUND A LITTLE BIT HERE. THAT'S BEEN A HUGE DISCUSSION ALL DURING THIS SESSION, BACK AND FORTH: SHOULD GOVERNMENT BE INVOLVED; SHOULD THERE BE TAX CREDITS; WHERE DOES THAT VALUES FUND ISSUE STAND NOW?

Glover: IT'S UNRESOLVED AS OF YET. THERE IS VIRTUALLY UNANIMOUS AGREEMENT THAT THERE WILL BE AN IOWA VALUES FUND TO REPLACE THE ONE THAT WAS STRUCK DOWN BY THE COURTS LAST YEAR. HOW BIG IT WILL BE IS YET TO BE DECIDED. THE OTHER CONSENSUS THAT'S HAPPENED IS REPUBLICANS HAVE COME UP WITH THIS IDEA OF A TAX CREDIT FOR BUSINESSES WHICH CREATE JOBS. IN OTHER WORDS, IF YOU CREATE TEN JOBS, YOU'LL GET TAX CREDITS FOR THOSE TEN JOBS YOU CREATE. THAT WILL BE A PART OF THE FINAL VALUES FUND. IN ADDITION TO THE MONEY THAT'S IN THE VALUES FUND, IT'S GOING TO BE USED TO LURE NEW BUSINESSES HERE. SO THERE WILL BE AN IOWA VALUES FUND. IT WILL BE A MIXTURE OF MONEY TO LURE NEW BUSINESSES TO THE STATE AND TAX CREDITS FOR BUSINESSES, WHICH ACTUALLY CREATE JOBS. HOW LONG THAT VALUES FUND WILL EXIST FOR, WE DON'T KNOW. CURRENTLY THE BILL BEING DONE IN THE HOUSE IS FOR ONE YEAR. DEMOCRATS AREN'T VERY HAPPY ABOUT THAT. THEY DON'T LIKE THE LEVEL OF FUNDING. THAT'S GOING TO BE TIED IN, LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE, TO THE CIGARETTE TAX INCREASE AND HOW MUCH MONEY THEY HAVE TO SPEND.

Beck: AND MIKE TALKED ABOUT SPLITTING THE DIFFERENCE ON THE CIGARETTE TAX. I THINK THIS IS ANOTHER AREA WHERE THEY MAY END UP SPLITTING THE DIFFERENCE. THE HOUSE WAS TALKING ABOUT A ONE-YEAR BILL. SENATE DEMOCRATS WANT A TEN-YEAR PACKAGE. MAYBE FIVE SUDDENLY STARTS TO HAPPEN AND THAT'S WHAT THE GOVERNOR WILL SIGN, SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

Yepsen: I'M CURIOUS, TODD, IS THE CAMPAIGN FOR GOVERNOR GETTING IN THE WAY OF THIS VALUES FUND DEBATE? I MEAN, YOU'VE GOT MIKE BLOUIN, WHO IS HEAD OF THE D.E.D., UP THERE PUSHING VERY HARD TO GET A VALUES FUND THROUGH. HE GOES ALL OVER THE STATE CUTTING RIBBONS AND HANDING OUT GRANTS. AT THE SAME TIME HE'S ALSO THINKING ABOUT RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR. IS PART OF THE PROBLEM HERE WITH THE VALUES FUND THAT REPUBLICANS DON'T WANT TO MAKE MIKE BLOUIN LOOK GOOD?

Dorman: PUBLICLY THEY SAY NO. PRIVATELY THEY SAY, YES, SIR. I MEAN THAT IS A CONSIDERATION. THEY DON'T WANT TO HAND A MAJOR POLICY VICTORY TO SOMEONE WHO IS GOING TO THEN NEXT YEAR COME OUT AND USE THAT VICTORY TO BEAT A REPUBLICAN NOMINEE OVER THE HEAD.

Glover: IF YOU THINK MIKE BLOUIN IS CUTTING RIBBONS NOW, NEXT FALL AFTER HE'S ANNOUNCED FOR GOVERNOR, JUST WATCH HIM CUT RIBBONS.

Dorman: RIGHT, RIGHT.

Beck: BUT I ALSO THINK IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT MIKE BLOUIN AS MUCH AS IT IS AN URBAN/RURAL CONTINUATION, A MONEY URBAN -- EXCUSE ME. RURAL LEGISLATORS LOOK AT THAT AND SAY, WELL, THE MONEY HAS GONE TO MANY URBAN CENTERS, AND I DON'T REALLY WANT TO PUT MORE MONEY INTO THAT UNLESS MY COMMUNITY IS GOING TO GET SOME.

Yepsen: IT'S A HUGE DEBATE BECAUSE IF YOU PUT THE MONEY WHERE AN ECONOMIC ACTION IS, IT'S NATURALLY GOING TO GO TO MORE URBAN AREAS.

Beck: EXACTLY.

Yepsen: TOUGH CALL.

Dorman: THE TAX CREDITS ALSO CAUSE A DEBATE BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO SET A WAGE THRESHOLD. YOU HAVE TO DECIDE DO I GIVE A TAX CREDIT TO A BUSINESS THAT CREATES A $10-AN-HOUR JOB, A $12-AN-HOUR JOB, AND WHERE DO YOU SET THAT. AGAIN, THAT'S RURAL AND URBAN BECAUSE WAGES IN RURAL AREAS ARE LOWER THAN URBAN AREAS.

Yepsen: KAY, YOU MENTIONED THE SALARY BILL EARLIER. LET'S TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THAT. WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH THAT? LEGISLATORS ARE ASKING -- ONE OF THE ITEMS IN THIS BILL IS A 17-PERCENT PAY RAISE FOR LAWMAKERS. A TOUGH SELL, ISN'T IT?

Henderson: IT IS A TOUGH SELL AND IT'S SORT OF COMING BACK TO BITE REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS. THEY'VE BEEN IN CONTROL FOR THE PAST SIX YEARS AND THEY HAVE RESISTED THE IDEA OF GIVING THEMSELVES A PAY RAISE. IN FACT, THEY GAVE THEMSELVES A PAY CUT WHEN TIMES WERE REALLY TOUGH. SO THEY ARE TRYING TO SELL THIS AS A COST-OF-LIVING INCREASE FOR THEMSELVES, AS WELL AS FOR STATEWIDE ELECTED OFFICIALS LIKE THE AUDITOR AND THE TREASURER. THIS SALARY PROPOSAL CAME OUT OF A PRIVATE MEETING THAT THE GOVERNOR HAD WITH LEGISLATIVE LEADERS. AND CURIOUSLY ENOUGH, THE PROPOSAL, WHEN IT EMERGED FROM THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE, DID NOT INCLUDE A SALARY INCREASE FOR THE NEXT GOVERNOR. AS WE ALL KNOW, THIS SALARY INCREASE WOULD TAKE EFFECT ON JANUARY 1, 2007, AND SO IT WOULD BE A GOVERNOR NUSSLE, A GOVERNOR CULVER, A GOVERNOR BLOUIN, WHOMEVER, WOULD BE THE BENEFICIARY OF THAT INCREASE. LEGISLATIVE LEADERS BELIEVE THEY HAVE TO RESOLVE THE OTHER RELATED SALARY ISSUES IN REGARDS TO HOW THEY FIGURE OUT HOW MUCH TO GIVE STATE AGENCIES TO COMPENSATE BOTH UNION AND NONUNION WORKERS FOR PAY RAISES BEFORE THEY TALK ABOUT AND PASS THIS BILL WHICH INCLUDES THEIR OWN PAY RAISE.

Glover: THE POLITICAL PROBLEM THEY HAVE IS REPUBLICANS HAVE GONE OUT OF THEIR WAY TO BLAME GOVERNOR VILSACK FOR GIVING MONEY TO THE STATE EMPLOYEE UNION, SALARY MONEY. SO THEY HAVE MADE SALARY MONEY THE BOGIEMAN MAN OF THIS LEGISLATIVE SESSION. ALL THIS GOVERNOR WANTS TO DO IS RAISE YOUR TAXES TO PAY OFF STATE WORKERS, RAISE THE SALARY FOR STATE EMPLOYEES. NOW SUDDENLY THEY WALK IN AND WANT A 17-PERCENT SALARY INCREASE THEMSELVES. THAT'S A VERY TOUGH SELL.

Dorman: WELL, IT'S A BIG STICKER SHOCK PROBLEM TOO BECAUSE I MEAN, IF THEY'D ASKED FOR A 5-PERCENT RAISE, A 4-PERCENT RAISE, PEOPLE MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT THAT WAS REASONABLE. BUT 17 PERCENT IS THE KIND OF NUMBER THAT PEOPLE'S EYES POP. THAT'S A BIG RAISE EVEN IF THEY HAVEN'T HAD A RAISE FOR SIX YEARS. AND THAT'S GOING TO -- I MEAN PEOPLE THAT I'VE TALKED TO OUTSIDE OF THE CAPITOL THINK THAT'S OUTRAGEOUS.

Henderson: IT IS OUTRAGEOUS TO MOST VOTERS, AND I THINK REPUBLICAN LEGISLATORS ARE GOING TO GET THEIR EARS CHEWED OFF THIS WEEKEND. I THINK THIS THING MAY DIE AFTER THIS WEEK.

Yepsen: I'VE OFTEN THOUGHT, TODD, THEY OUGHT TO RAISE THEIR PAY BY THE GROWTH OF PERSONAL INCOME IN IOWA LAST YEAR. IF IOWANS GET A RAISE, THEN LEGISLATORS ARE ENTITLED TO A RAISE. IF THEY DON'T, THEY DON'T GET ONE. LET'S MOVE ON TO EARLY CHILDHOOD, TODD. THE GOVERNOR HAD A PROPOSAL FOR A VARIETY OF EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMS. REPUBLICANS WANT SOMETHING A LITTLE SCALED BACK. WHERE'S THAT GOING TO WIND UP?

Dorman: WELL, THE GOVERNOR WANTS $40 MILLION, AND HE THINKS THAT MONEY CAN BE SPENT TOWARD EXPANDING ACCESS TO ACCREDITED CHILD-CARE PROGRAMS, PROVIDING SOME ASSISTANCE TO BOTH PRESCHOOLS AND PARENTS WHO WANT TO SEND THEIR KIDS TO PRESCHOOL. REPUBLICANS HAVE A $12-MILLION PLAN, WHICH THEY CONTEND CAN DO THE SAME THING FOR A LOT LESS MONEY. AT THIS POINT THAT'S WHERE WE STAND WITH THE TWO PROPOSALS. AND UNTIL THE CIGARETTE TAX ISSUE GETS SOLVED AND UNTIL SOME OF THESE OTHER THINGS FALL INTO PLACE, I DON'T -- IT'S HARD TO TELL WHETHER THEY CAN FIND A PLACE IN THE MIDDLE OR NOT.

Yepsen: ONE OF THE THINGS THE GOVERNOR WANTED TO DO THAT WAS SORT OF A STICKING POINT EARLIER WAS HE WANTED TO SPEND -- WE GOT SOME ADDITIONAL TAX REVENUES THIS YEAR, AND HE WANTED TO SPEND SOME MONEY THIS YEAR -- OR DEDICATE SOME MONEY OUT OF THIS YEAR'S BUDGET FOR A PROGRAM NEXT YEAR. THAT SET OFF ALL KINDS OF ALARM BELLS. HAS THAT ISSUE BEEN RESOLVED?

Dorman: IT'S STILL POSSIBLE THAT COULD HAPPEN. BUDGET EXPERTS A FEW DAYS AGO SAID THAT WE'RE GOING TO TAKE IN MORE TAXES THIS YEAR THAN WE WERE EXPECTING. SO THERE'S A POT OF ABOUT $80 MILLION SITTING OUT THERE. AND THE LEGISLATORS THEORETICALLY COULD TAP INTO THAT MONEY FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD AND OTHER USES. SO THAT'S STILL ON THE TABLE.

Glover: DAVID, THIS IS ONE OF THOSE ISSUES -- AND THERE'S PROBABLY HALF A DOZEN OF THEM -- THAT ARE SITTING UP THERE. AND YOU'RE RIGHT; IT'S NOT GOING TO BE RESOLVED UNTIL WE KNOW IF THE CIGARETTE TAX IS GOING TO GO UP AND, IF SO, BY HOW MUCH. ONCE WE KNOW THAT, THEN WE'LL KNOW HOW MUCH EXTRA MONEY IS OUT TO PARCEL AMONG THESE OTHER PROGRAMS. ONCE YOU GET THAT DOLLAR FIGURE ON THE TABLE, THEN IT'S JUST A GAME OF HORSE TRADING UP THERE ABOUT: I WANT THIS IN MY EARLY CHILDHOOD; YOU'LL GET THIS FOR YOUR TEACHER EDUCATION. SO WE'LL SPLIT IT UP ONCE WE KNOW HOW MUCH THE CIGARETTE TAX MONEY IS.

Yepsen: SO THESE PIECES COULD FALL TOGETHER PRETTY QUICKLY ONCE THAT CIGARETTE TAX --

Glover: WITHIN -- I MEAN PEOPLE ARE ALREADY SITTING UP THERE DOING A WHAT-IF GAME: OKAY, I THINK WE'RE GOING TO HAVE ABOUT $70 MILLION IN CIGARETTE TAX MONEY, SO THE TALKS ARE ALREADY UNDERWAY ABOUT WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO WITH IT. SO ONCE THAT'S IN PLACE ON THE TABLE, THINGS COULD TOPPLE VERY, VERY QUICKLY. THEY COULD ACTUALLY BEAT THE APRIL 29 DEADLINE.

Yepsen: JENEANE, ONE THING THAT CAME UP IN THE SENATE LAST WEEK THAT WAS NOT RELATED TO THE BUDGET WAS THE CONFIRMATION OF SEVERAL NEW MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF REGENTS. RUTH HARKIN NARROWLY GOT CONFIRMED BY JUST ONE VOTE. A LOT OF TURNOVER IN THE BOARD OF REGENTS. A LOT OF TURMOIL THERE. WHAT DOES THE CONFIRMATION OF THESE NEW REGENTS MEAN? WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THAT FOR OUR STATE UNIVERSITIES?

Beck: WELL, I DON'T THINK WE KNOW YET. I DO THINK THAT THE NEW REGENTS HAVE SAID THAT THEY WILL BE COMMITTED TO THE TRANSFORMATION PROCESS THAT WAS PUT IN PLACE BY JOHN FORSYTH WHEN HE WAS PRESIDENT, ASKING THE UNIVERSITIES TO DO MORE SHARING AND TO LOOK AT THEIR SERVICES AND ELIMINATE SOME DUPLICATION, THAT THAT PROCESS WILL CONTINUE. NOW, WHAT'S GOING TO BE INTERESTING IS THE LEGISLATURE WAS ASKED BY THE REGENTS AHEAD OF THE SESSION TO STRIKE A DEAL THAT THEY WOULD GET $40 MILLION EACH YEAR FOR THE NEXT FOUR YEARS, I THINK, AND WITH THAT, THEY WOULD DO THIS TRANSFORMATION AND THEY WOULDN'T ASK FOR SALARY MONEY. BUT THE HOUSE HAS ONLY SUGGESTED THAT THE REGENTS GET $20 MILLION. SO THERE'S SOME QUESTION OF HOW MUCH THE LEGISLATURE IS GOING TO BACK THIS TRANSFORMATION PROCESS IF THEY DON'T GIVE THE REGENTS THE MONEY THEY'RE REQUESTING. SO I THINK IT'S YET TO BE SEEN HOW EVERYTHING WILL SHAKE OUT.

Yepsen: WASN'T THE OLD -- DIDN'T THE OLD BOARD OF REGENTS SORT OF PUT A GUN TO THE HEAD OF THE LEGISLATURE AND SAID GIVE US THE $40 MILLION OR WE'RE GOING TO RAISE TUITIONS AGAIN?

Beck: YEAH, THEY SORT OF SAID THE ONLY WAY TO PROMISE THAT TUITION WILL ONLY GO UP BY THE RATE OF INFLATION IS IF YOU GIVE US THIS MONEY. I'M NOT SURE THAT THE LEGISLATURE THINKS THAT'S A FAIR SHAKE, SO THEY MAY NOT GET IT.

Glover: I'M NOT SURE THE LEGISLATURE THINKS THAT'S A VERY BIG GUN, EITHER. I MEAN A LOT OF LEGISLATORS LOOK AT TUITION LEVELS AT IOWA'S PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES AS BEING COMPARATIVELY LOW COMPARED TO OTHER COLLEGES IN THE COUNTRY. AND THEY SAY: YOU'RE GOING TO RAISE TUITION, GO RIGHT AHEAD; IT'S EASIER FOR YOU TO RAISE TUITION THAN FOR ME TO RAISE TAXES.

Henderson: AND A LAST NOTE ABOUT THIS PALACE INTRIGUE IN THE BOARD OF REGENTS. THERE WAS SOME THOUGHT, SOME RUMOR THAT THE FOLKS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA WEREN'T VERY HAPPY WITH THE FORMER LEADER. THEY PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED MR. FORSYTH, WHO WAS THE LEADER OF A HUGE INSURANCE COMPANY IN THIS STATE. SO IT BRINGS TO MIND THAT OLD ADAGE THAT THE DEVIL YOU KNOW IS BETTER THAN THE DEVIL THAT YOU DON'T KNOW BECAUSE NOW THEY MAY HAVE GOTTEN THEMSELVES A LEADER IN MICHAEL GARTNER WHO WE ALL BELIEVE WILL BE NAMED THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF REGENTS THIS COMING WEEK, A FELLOW WHO HAS BEEN A STERN NEGOTIATOR WITH CITIES AND COUNTIES ACROSS THE STATE AS WE'VE ALL SEEN THROUGH THIS VISION IOWA PROGRAM, WHEREBY HE FORCED COUNTIES IN MANY INSTANCES TO PUT UP MILLIONS MORE FOR LOCAL PROJECTS THAN THEY HAD EVER ENVISIONED WHEN THEY WERE APPLYING FOR STATE MONEY.

Glover: AND THERE WAS SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED, BY THE WAY, THAT PLAYS ON WHAT YOU'RE SAYING, KAY, THIS SESSION THAT I FOUND REALLY REMARKABLE. WHEN THE FORSYTH BEING FORCED OFF THE BOARD, THE DAVE NEIL BEING FORCED OFF THE BOARD THING HAPPENED, THERE WAS AN EXPLOSION AT THE LEGISLATURE. PEOPLE WERE DEMANDING INVESTIGATIONS. THEY WERE GOING TO CALL COLLEGE PRESIDENTS IN. THAT WENT AWAY IN A MATTER OF DAYS.

Yepsen: DIDN'T IT GO AWAY BECAUSE THE LEGISLATORS KNEW THAT SOME OF THESE NEW REGENTS COMING ON BOARD -- MIKE GARTNER, TERESA WAHLERT, TOM BEDELL -- ARE TOUGH MANAGERS AND ARE STRONG?

Glover: I THINK THE PEOPLE THAT VILSACK PICKED TO REPLACE THE PEOPLE WHO WERE OFF THE BOARD WENT A LONG WAY TO EASING CONCERNS AT THE HILL THAT THEY WERE GOING TO SOMEHOW BLOCK THIS TRANSFORMATION PROCESS.

Yepsen: MIKE GARTNER IS A SUFFICIENT BOSS. I KNOW, I ONCE WORKED FOR HIM. OF COURSE, HE SAYS, "WELL, IT'S NOT CLEAR YOU WERE "WORKING" FOR ME." [ LAUGHTER ] MIKE, SPEAKING OF EDUCATION, ONE OF THE BUDGET ISSUES UP THERE IS THIS TEACHER QUALITY DISPUTE. FOR YEARS -- SEVERAL YEARS AGO WE STARTED IN THIS STATE ON A PROGRAM TO TRY TO RAISE TEACHER PAY AND IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF TEACHERS, AND IT KIND OF FELL BY THE BOARDS. THE GOVERNOR IS TRYING TO REVIVE IT. AGAIN, WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS FOR THIS?

Glover: THERE WILL BE A TEACHER QUALITY COMPONENT TO WHATEVER BUDGET DEAL IS REACHED. THERE WILL BE SOME MONEY FOR INCREASING TEACHER PAY. AGAIN, THIS GOES BACK TO THE CIGARETTE TAX INCREASE, HOW MUCH MONEY THEY'LL BE LAYING ON THE TABLE FOR THAT. BUT THERE IS A BROAD AGREEMENT. REPUBLICANS I THINK HAVE KIND OF RESIGNED TO IT. THEY KNOW IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN. THEY KNOW VILSACK IS GOING TO PUSH FOR IT. THEY KNOW THEY'RE TIED IN THE SENATE SO THEY CAN'T BLOCK IT. SO THERE WILL BE A TEACHER PAY INCREASE. WE DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH YET.

Yepsen: KAY, I BROUGHT UP AT THE TOP OF THE SHOW THAT THERE'S THIS TALK UP THERE OF A SPECIAL SESSION. WE'VE ALL BEEN UP THERE A NUMBER OF YEARS. WE HEAR THAT TALK EVERY YEAR. IS THERE ANY REASON TO BELIEVE WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A SPECIAL SESSION, OR ARE YOU AN OPTIMIST LIKE GLOVER HERE WHO THINKS THAT WE MIGHT ACTUALLY GET OUT OF THIS SESSION BEFORE APRIL 29?

Henderson: WELL, AREN'T REPORTERS PAID PESSIMISTS? [ LAUGHTER ]

Henderson: I REALLY HAVE NO IDEA BECAUSE THE DIVIDE BETWEEN REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE AND REPUBLICANS IN THE SENATE HAS REALLY GROWN THIS YEAR BEHIND THE SCENES. THEY HAVE AN INABILITY TO WORK WITH ONE ANOTHER. AND IF THERE IS TO BE AN IN-GAME PLAYED OUT HERE WHEREBY THESE DEALS ARE STRUCK, I REALLY THINK IT'S GOING TO HAVE TO COME DOWN TO THE HOUSE REPUBLICAN LEADERS AND CHRISTOPHER RANTS AND CHUCK GIPP MEETING WITH THE SENATE LEADERSHIP ON THE DEMOCRAT SIDE, MEANING MR. GRONSTAL, AND COMING TO SOME AGREEMENT BECAUSE, FOR SOME UNKNOWN REASON, REPUBLICANS IN THE SENATE AND REPUBLICANS IN THE HOUSE JUST CAN'T NEGOTIATE RIGHT NOW.

Glover: I THINK YOU COULD SAY -- AND YOU'RE RIGHT; THE BIG CULTURAL DIVIDE AT THE LEGISLATURE THIS YEAR IS BETWEEN SENATE REPUBLICANS AND SENATE DEMOCRATS. HAVE YOU EVER GOTTEN A NOTE HOME FROM SCHOOL FROM YOUR KID THAT SAYS "DOESN'T PLAY WELL"? WELL, THAT'S WHAT'S HAPPENING AMONG REPUBLICANS AT THE LEGISLATURE. THEY STARTED THE SESSION OFF BY HAVING JOINT PRESS CONFERENCES AT THE BEGINNING OF EACH WEEK TO MAKE THE POINT ABOUT WHAT THEY WERE GOING TO DO THAT WEEK. THEY STOPPED THAT BECAUSE THEY COULDN'T AGREE WHAT TO SAY.

Yepsen: I THINK A NOTE FROM THIS SESSION IS THEY PLAY TOO MUCH. TODD, WHAT'S YOUR GUT TELL YOU ABOUT THIS SPECIAL SESSION TALK? DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE ONE OR NOT?

Dorman: IT COMES DOWN TO THE CIGARETTE TAX, I THINK. IF THE CIGARETTE TAX PASSES AND THEY HAVE SOME MONEY TO PLAY WITH AND THEY CAN GET THIS BUDGET DEAL DONE, THEN THEY CAN GET OUT ON TIME. LIKE MIKE SAYS, IF THAT CIGARETTE TAX PASSES, IT COULD HAPPEN REALLY FAST. IF THEY DON'T PASS THE CIGARETTE TAX AND THEY DON'T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY AVAILABLE TO GET A BUDGET BILL DONE, THEN WE COULD BE TALKING ABOUT THIS IN MAY OR LONGER.

Yepsen: JENEANE, DO I MAKE MY PLANE RESERVATIONS FOR MAY 1?

Beck: I'M A PESSIMIST; I WOULD HOLD OFF. I JUST DO AGREE THAT IT DEPENDS ON IF REPUBLICANS LOCK UP AND DECIDE THEY THEY DON'T WANT A CIGARETTE TAX, IF SPEAKER RANTS HOLDS TO HIS STATEMENTS ALL SESSION LONG. I ASKED HIM ONCE ABOUT THE CIGARETTE TAX. HE SAID, "WELL, WE DON'T NEED IT. WE DON'T NEED IT TO FUND THE BUDGET." AND I SAID, "BUT YOU NEED IT TO GET THE GO-HOME NOTE FROM THE GOVERNOR?" AND I THINK THAT'S WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO IS WHETHER HE HOLDS HIS GUNS AND GOES HOME FOR A WHILE AND STEWS ABOUT IT AND THEN COMES BACK.

Yepsen: KAY, THERE ARE OTHER NONBUDGET ISSUES UP THERE. ONE OF THE BIGGEST ONES IS THIS ISSUE OF HOW WE TREAT SEX OFFENDERS IN IOWA. WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN THERE?

Henderson: WELL, AS WE ALL KNOW IN IOWA, THERE WAS A HEART-RENDING CASE WHERE A TEN-YEAR-OLD CEDAR RAPIDS GIRL WAS KIDNAPPED, MOLESTED, AND MURDERED BY A MAN OVER IN EASTERN IOWA. AND THAT REALLY PROMPTED A DEBATE IN THE LEGISLATURE ABOUT THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY: IS IT WORKING AS WELL AS IT COULD; ABOUT THE SEX OFFENDERS, MANY OF WHOM WHILE THEY'RE SENT TO PRISON REFUSE TREATMENT WHILE THEY'RE IN PRISON; ABOUT THE SENTENCES FOR SEX OFFENDERS; ABOUT THEIR PAROLE... SHOULD THEY BE ON PERMANENT, LIFETIME MONITORING PROGRAMS ONCE THEY'RE RELEASED? SO A BILL HAS DEVELOPED OUT OF THIS THAT HAS ALREADY PASSED THE HOUSE. IN THE HOUSE BILL, THEY WOULD REQUIRE ELECTRONIC MONITORING OF SEX OFFENDERS ONCE THEY'RE RELEASED... AMONG OTHER THINGS, SOME ADJUSTMENTS IN THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY. ONCE IT GOT OVER TO THE SENATE, THE DEATH PENALTY WAS INJECTED IN THIS DEBATE BY, IN PARTICULAR, SENATOR LARRY MCKIBBEN, WHO WAS PRESSING FOR A DEATH PENALTY IN THIS CASE, WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN TWO FELONY CONVICTIONS. IT APPEARS THAT THE DRUMBEAT AMONG A FEW REPUBLICANS FOR A DEBATE IN THE SENATE ON THE DEATH PENALTY HAS SORT OF LESSENED. THE SENATE LEADER, MICHAEL GRONSTAL, WHO HAS A VETO WHO CAN SAY, "HEY, WE'RE NOT GOING TO DEBATE THIS," HAS SAID THREE WEEKS AGO, I BELIEVE IT WAS, THAT IF A BILL COMES UP THAT INCLUDES THE DEATH PENALTY, WE WILL NOT DEBATE IT. HOUSE LEADERSHIP HAS SAID, YOU KNOW, THIS IS A CONTENTIOUS ISSUE, WE PROBABLY DON'T HAVE A LOT OF TIME TO DEBATE THIS, OUR RESOURCES IN TERMS OF PERSON POWER. SO IT APPEARS THAT THE DEATH PENALTY WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED AMONG THAT PROPOSAL.

Glover: ONE OF THE INTERESTING PARTS OF THAT DEBATE IS SORT OF WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD, BECAUSE REFLEXIVELY, WHEN THE LEGISLATURE IS CONFRONTED WITH A HORRIBLE CRIME LIKE THE JETSETA GAGE CASE, THEIR INSTINCT IS TO TOUGHEN THINGS: LET'S GET TOUGHER; LET'S LENGTHEN SENTENCES. AND SO THE FIRST THING THEY SAID WAS WE'RE GOING TO DOUBLE THE SENTENCE FOR COMMITTING LASCIVIOUS ACTS WITH A CHILD, WHICH WAS THE CRIME THAT THE ALLEGED PERPETRATOR OF THIS CRIME WAS CHARGED WITH. WE'RE GOING TO GO FROM FIVE YEARS TO TEN YEARS. ALMOST UNANIMOUS AGREEMENT. AND THEN PROSECUTORS CAME UP TO THE STATEHOUSE AND SAID, "LOOK, GUYS, WE DEAL WITH THESE CASES EVERY DAY. YOU MAKE THIS A TEN-YEAR PRISON TERM, AND PEOPLE AREN'T GOING TO PLEA BARGAIN, AND WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD KID INTO COURT AND PROVE A VERY DIFFICULT CASE. DON'T DO THIS. WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR AND LET'S LOOK AT THIS."

Beck: I THINK THAT'S WHAT'S GOING TO BE THE INTERESTING THING ABOUT THIS IS WHETHER IT IS A POLITICAL BILL OR AN ACTUAL BILL THAT WORKS WITHIN THE SYSTEM. AND THE SAME DAY THAT WE WERE MAKING NEWS IN THE "WASHINGTON POST" ABOUT HOW THIS DIVIDED LEGISLATURE WAS SURE GETTING ALONG WELL, THERE WAS A LOT OF FINGER-POINTING IN THE SENATE THAT DAY OVER WHOSE FAULT IT WAS THAT THIS LITTLE GIRL WAS MURDERED. THEY'VE SETTLED DOWN. THEY ARE WORKING ON THIS BILL. THEY HAVE ASKED PEOPLE LIKE PROSECUTORS TO COME IN AND TELL THEM WHAT REALLY NEEDS TO HAPPEN, AND THEY'RE BEING MORE THOUGHTFUL ABOUT IT, YOU KNOW, HAVING THAT TIME TO COOL OFF. SO I THINK IT DEPENDS. I THINK THERE WILL BE SOME GOOD PROVISIONS ABOUT INCREASED MONITORING AND LONGER SENTENCES, BUT THEN THERE WILL ALSO BE A LITTLE OF THOSE POLITICAL THINGS LIKE A DISTANCE REQUIREMENT BETWEEN WHERE A SEX OFFENDER CAN LIVE AND A SCHOOL AND A DAY CARE. POLICE ARE TELLING THEM: IT'S WORTHLESS; IT DOESN'T WORK; THEY CAN'T FIND A PLACE TO LIVE; AND WHEN THEY CAN FIND A PLACE TO LIVE, IF IT'S WITHIN THAT REQUIREMENT, THEN THEY JUST DON'T GET THEMSELVES ON THE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY AND DON'T CHECK IN. BUT THEY'RE GOING TO PUT IT IN THERE BECAUSE THEY THINK IT LOOKS GOOD.

Yepsen: JENEANE, REAL QUICKLY, ONE OTHER ISSUE THAT'S SORT OF MAKING SOME -- WE'RE SEEING SOME RUMBLINGS UP THERE IS MENTAL HEALTH PARITY. WHAT IS THAT ISSUE AND WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN?

Beck: WELL, IT'S REQUIRING INSURANCE COMPANIES OR BUSINESSES THAT OFFER YOU HEALTH INSURANCE TO ALSO COVER MENTAL ILLNESS THE SAME WAY THEY WOULD A BROKEN LEG OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. IT WON'T AFFECT THAT MANY PEOPLE BECAUSE MOST PEOPLE'S INSURANCE ARE UNDER THE FEDERAL SYSTEM, SO WE ALREADY HAVE PARITY, SO TO SPEAK. BUT THIS IS PROBABLY THE FIRST YEAR A BILL WILL MAKE IT TO THE GOVERNOR'S DESK, AND I THINK HE'LL SIGN IT. IT'S LIMITED. IT'S NOT ALL HE WANTS, BUT IT'S A FIRST STEP.

Glover: MIKE, SPEAKING OF THINGS THE GOVERNOR MAY OR MAY NOT SIGN, HE'S GOT THE SPEED LIMIT BILL.

Glover: HE DOES.

Yepsen: WHAT'S HE GOING TO DO WITH THAT, THE BILL RAISING THE SPEED LIMIT AND THE TRAFFIC FINES?

Glover: THE BILL RAISES THE SPEED LIMIT ON RURAL INTERSTATE HIGHWAYS FROM 65 MILES AN HOUR TO 70 MILES AN HOUR, IT DOUBLES TRAFFIC FINES, BRINGS IN ABOUT $8 MILLION. I MENTION THE $8 MILLION BECAUSE I THINK HE'S GOING TO SIGN IT, NOT BECAUSE IT RAISES THE SPEED LIMIT, HE NEEDS THE MONEY. IT'S $7 MILLION FOR IOWA'S COURT SYSTEM, ABOUT $600,000, $800,000 FOR THE HIGHWAY PATROL. THE GOVERNOR NEEDS THE MONEY TO MAKE HIS BUDGET WORK. I DON'T THINK HE LIKES THE IDEA OF RAISING THE SPEED LIMIT. I THINK HE WORRIES ABOUT EXTRA HIGHWAY DEATHS. I THINK HE WORRIES ABOUT INSURANCE RATES GOING UP. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, HE NEEDS THE MONEY TO BALANCE THE BUDGET. I THINK HE'LL SIGN IT.

Yepsen: TODD, WE'VE GOT JUST A COUPLE MINUTES LEFT. WE'VE ALWAYS GOT TO TALK POLITICS ON THIS SHOW. THE IOWA SENATE IS DIVIDED 25/25. IT NEVER HAPPENED SINCE THE 1930S. HOW HAS IT WORKED?

Dorman: WELL, THEY SET UP A POWER-SHARING STRUCTURE THAT ESSENTIALLY MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR VIRTUALLY -- I MEAN, FOR A LOT OF THINGS NOT TO HAPPEN. BECAUSE EACH SIDE HAS THE SAME NUMBER OF VOTES, EACH SIDE CAN VETO BILLS FROM COMING TO THE FLOOR. EACH SIDE HAS THE SAME NUMBER OF VOTES IN COMMITTEE, AND COMMITTEE CHAIRS CAN STOP BILLS FROM COMING TO DEBATE IN COMMITTEE. SO WHAT STARTED OUT AS KIND OF WARM AND FUZZY HAS KIND OF EVOLVED INTO ALMOST LIKE A COLD WAR. I MEAN YOU'VE GOT TWO SIDES ARMED TO THE TEETH, AND THEY'RE TRYING TO DECIDE WHETHER TO GET ALONG OR TO OPT FOR MUTUALLY ASSURED DESTRUCTION, I GUESS. AND THAT'S KIND OF WHERE IT STANDS AT THIS POINT. I MEAN THERE'S -- THEY HAVE ACCOMPLISHED THINGS IN A BIPARTISAN WAY ON SOME ISSUES, BUT IN A LOT OF -- ON A LIT LOT OF BIG ISSUES, THEY'RE ESSENTIALLY JUST SITTING AROUND AND LOOKING AT EACH OTHER.

Yepsen: IT SEEMS TO ME THE BEST WAY TO EXPLAIN WHAT GOES ON IN THE IOWA SENATE IS CALLED THE 26TH VOTE. BOTH PARTIES ARE TRYING TO JOCKEY FOR POSITION TO TRY TO PICK UP THAT ONE EXTRA VOTE IN THE '06 ELECTION.

Dorman: YEAH, I MEAN THAT'S -- THEY'RE LOOKING AT ISSUES LIKE THE DEATH PENALTY AND LIKE THE CIGARETTE TAX AND SAYING TO THEMSELVES, WELL, IF WE CAN MANEUVER SOMEHOW, IF WE CAN MANEUVER TO A BENEFICIAL POSITION ON THESE ISSUES, THEN NEXT YEAR WE CAN TAKE A HANDFUL OF SEATS AND KIND OF END THIS STALEMATE.

Glover: THIS IS WHAT IT ALL COMES DOWN TO. ON THE DEATH PENALTY, ON CIGARETTE TAX, ON ALL THOSE THINGS, IT COMES DOWN TO A CAMPAIGN BROCHURE NEXT YEAR. YOU'RE RIGHT, THE CIGARETTE TAX IS AN EASY TAX TO PASS, BUT YOU CAN'T SAY "I DIDN'T RAISE ANY TAXES" IF YOU PASS THE CIGARETTE TAX.

Yepsen: MIKE, IT'S COME UP SEVERAL TIMES TODAY ALREADY HERE; THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR IN '06 IS ALIVE AND WELL. GIVE US AN UPDATE ON WHAT'S HAPPENING.

Glover: THE RACE FOR GOVERNOR IS ALIVE AND WELL. ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE, SECRETARY OF STATE CHET CULVER HAS HIRED STAFFERS. HE'S RAISING MONEY. DEMOCRATIC LEADER OF THE SENATE MIKE GRONSTAL HAS STEPPED UP HIS PROFILE. HE'S NOW MAKING IT CLEAR HE'S GOING TO FORM AN EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE TO TAKE A LOOK AT IT. THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT HEAD MICHAEL BLOUIN HAS TALKED TO SOME CONSULTANTS. WE EXPECT TO SEE HIM IN IT. REPRESENTATIVE JIM NUSSLE IS WIDELY EXPECTED TO SEEK THE REPUBLICAN NOMINATION. SIOUX CITY BUSINESSMAN BOB VANDER PLAATS HAS ALREADY ANNOUNCED HIS INTENTION. THEY'RE ALREADY ACTIVE --

Yepsen: ED FALLON?

Glover: ED FALLON IS ALREADY IN THE RACE. HE'S FORMALLY ANNOUNCED. HE'S CONSIDERED A FRINGE PLAYER BUT IT'S NEVER BAD TO BE THE LIBERAL IN A DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY, AND HE IS.

Yepsen: DO YOU THINK IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS, WILL MIKE GRONSTAL ACTUALLY GET IN THIS THING? HE SEEMS TO LOVE THE LEGISLATURE A LOT MORE THAN HE WOULD THE CAMPAIGN.

Glover: I THINK HE WILL FOR A COUPLE OF REASONS. ONE, HE'S NOT UP NEXT YEAR, SO HE WON'T LOSE HIS SEAT IN THE SENATE IF HE RUNS FOR GOVERNOR. B) LOOK AT OUR HISTORY OF GOVERNORS: TOM VILSACK, EIGHT YEARS; TERRY BRANSTAD, SIXTEEN YEARS; BOB RAY, FOURTEEN YEARS. WHEN THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE COMES OPEN, IF YOU'VE EVER HAD AN INTEREST, YOU BETTER RUN.

Yepsen: TIME TO GO. WELL, AS JOHN MCLAUGHLIN LIKES TO SAY, "I GOTTA GET OUT." WE'RE OUT OF TIME. THANKS, EVERYBODY, FOR BEING HERE TODAY. NOW, ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS," OUR FOCUS REMAINS ON THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION OF 2005, AND WE CALL ON THE LEADERSHIP IN THE IOWA SENATE. JOINING US ARE SENATOR MIKE GRONSTAL, DEMOCRAT FROM COUNCIL BLUFFS WHO WE KNOW AS THE COLEADER IN THE SENATE, AND SENATOR JEFF LAMBERTI, A REPUBLICAN FROM ANKENY WHO IS THE SENATE'S COPRESIDENT. WE RETURN AT OUR REGULAR AIRTIMES: FRIDAY AT 7:30 AND SUNDAY AT NOON. I'M DAVID YEPSEN OF "THE DES MOINES REGISTER" SITTING IN FOR DEAN BORG ON THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF "IOWA PRESS." THANKS FOR JOINING US. CAPTIONS BY: MIDWEST CAPTIONING DES MOINES, IOWA

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY "FRIENDS," THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

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